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Opening remarks by
Consul Yasemin Pamuk, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York

Distinguished Panelists
Ori Z Soltes PhD, Georgetown University in Washington DC
Artist Refugees from Nazi Germany in the United States
Rebecca Erbelding PhD, Historian and Author in Washington DC
US Immigration Policy during the 1930s Refugee Crisis
Stephen M Rasche JD, Catholic University in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
Identity in a Time of Forced Displacement: Religious Art and the Iraqi Christian Experience
David Stern
, German born American Artist in New York NY
Immigration and Culture Shock in Times of Globalization

Musical Performance (Piano)
Carolyn Enger, Steinway Recording Artist:
Arnold Schoenberg – Sechs kleine Klavierstücke Op. 19
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou: Homesickness Pt. 1
Paul Ben-Haim – Canzonetta from Five Pieces for Piano, Op 34

Rachel Stern, The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art in New York NY

What is it that defines human identity? DNA? Language? Culture? Landscape? Polity? Or is it a combination of all of these factors? How do the sources of identity make it easy or difficult for individuals who migrate from one location to another—by choice or under duress—not merely to adapt but to become fully comfortable within their new home? How do artists, with their particular set of sensibilities respond to their own migration?

There are many times in the course of history when these questions have offered particularly strong reference points, including our own, with its unprecedented patterns of migration, and vast numbers of refugees removing themselves under duress from one region to other parts of the planet. Within the Western World in particular the most significant era in which such issues might be raised occurred just prior to the mid-twentieth century, with the rise of Nazism and other fascist movements across most of Europe.

Carolyn Enger

Rebecca Erbelding, PhD

Ori Z Soltes, PhD

Stephen M Rasche JD

David Stern


Carolyn Enger is an internationally acclaimed pianist and filmmaker, well known for her deeply felt interpretation of music ranging from the 18th century to contemporary works. Being a Steinway Artist, she has performed in venues like the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the National Gallery of Art in D.C., the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, the Bach Festival in Germany, the National Gallery in Norway, and the White Stork Synagogue in Wrocław, Poland. Ms. Enger is a 1st generation German-American and daughter of a Holocaust survivor.

Rebecca Erbelding PhD is the author of Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe (Doubleday, 2018), which won the National Jewish Book Award for excellence in writing based on archival research. She holds a PhD in American history from George Mason University and has been a historian, curator, and archivist at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum since 2003. She served as the lead historian on the Museum’s special exhibition, Americans and the Holocaust.

Stephen M Rasche JD is a recognized international expert in the field of persecution of religious minorities.  During the ISIS war in Iraq and its aftermath he served with the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil, Iraq, where he managed humanitarian and resettlement programs for displaced Christians and Yazidis forced from their homes by the ISIS genocide. He regularly works on projects involving the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage and has served as official representative to the Vatican Dicastery on Refugees and Migrants.   He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “The Disappearing People: the Tragic Fate of Christians in the Middle East.”

Ori Z Soltes PhD teaches at Georgetown University across the disciplines of theology, art history, philosophy and politics. He is the former Director and Curator of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum where he curated some 80 exhibitions. He is the author of several hundred articles and catalogue essays, and the author or editor of 25 books, including The Ashen Rainbow: The Holocaust and the Arts; Symbols of Faith: How Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source; and Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art and Architecture (second edition forthcoming).

David Stern is a German-born American figurative painter, whose work is rooted in the European figurative tradition and informed by American Abstract Expressionism. The main theme/motive of his work has been and continues to be the human condition. He has widely exhibited in Europe and the US and is represented in public and private collections in the United States, Europe and Asia, among them The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, New York, the National Museum, Poznan (Poland), and the State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Kupferstich-Kabinett), Dresden (Germany).

Fritz Ascher Society

Generously sponsored by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York.

This event celebrates the launch of the online exhibition, “Identity, Art and Migration” which tells a distinctly human story of how circumstance impacts selfhood. Through the lens of seven artist case studies and interdisciplinary scholarship, we investigate US immigration of European refugees during the first half of the 20th century: Anni Albers, Friedel Dzubas, Eva Hesse, Rudi Lesser, Lily Renee, Arthur Szyk and Fritz Ascher. The exhibition underscores the transformative effect of forced migration on individual identity.

About the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture
The Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center for Thought & Culture is a forum to highlight the true, the good, and the beautiful as they have been expressed throughout the ages. Cognizant of our creation in the image and likeness of God, the Sheen Center aspires to present the heights and depths of human expression in thought and culture, featuring humankind as fully alive. At the Sheen Center, we proclaim that life is worth living, especially when we seek to deepen, explore and challenge ourselves, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, intellectually, artistically, and spiritually.

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